Ian "Ollie" Olsen (born 1958) is a composer, synthesist and sound designer from Melbourne. He has been producing and performing rock, electronic and experimental music for over thirty years. Olsen is well known for his 1989 collaboration with Michael Hutchence in the band, Max Q and co-founding the alternative electronic music record label, Psy-Harmonics, with Andrew Till.
Olsen began his forays into electronic music as a teenager in the mid-1970s, studying with Felix Werder. He has gone on to produce a large body of work, ranging from experimental work to film and television soundtracks, pop and dance music, installation projects and creating record labels.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s. He formed a series of punk and post-punk bands, as leader and vocalist, as well as being a key figure in the Melbourne little band scene. His punk bands included The Reals and The Young Charlatans (with guitarist Rowland S. Howard). He formed a series of confrontational post-punk bands beginning with Whirlywirld, which also began a long period of collaboration with drummer John Murphy (from Whirlywirld through Hugo Klang, Orchestra of Skin and Bone, NO and finally Max Q).
Olsen and Murphy lived in Europe and Britain between 1981 and 1983 and attempted, unsuccessfully, to get Hugo Klang off the ground. Olsen returned to Australia in 1983 and continued Hugo Klang for a short time with Alan Bamford, Tom Hoy and Laughton Ellery, before the band became officially defunct in 1983. John Murphy eventually returned to Australia and he and Ollie began the Orchestra of Skin and Bone with David and Marie Hoy, Dugald Mackenzie and Peter Scully. Olsen and Marie Hoy would then go on to form NO with Michael Sheridan and Kevin McMahon.
Dogs in Space:
In 1984, film director, Richard Lowenstein, asked Olsen and Wirlywirld to appear in the feature film, Dogs in Space. Olsen supervised the reforming of many of the acts from the "Little Bands" era and then worked on the production of music recordings for the soundtrack; the film was released in 1986. In a 2009 interview, following the restoration of the original film for a DVD release, Lowenstein explained:
But Whirlywirld were always the ones for me. I mean, their music is in the movie itself, over the end credits. And the great thing about Ollie Olsen, and one of the reasons I asked him to do so much in the movie, is that his songs have always had a feel to them, a kind of mood that fitted in with what we were doing. You'd die to make a video for some of his songs, he uses so many great images, and the rhythms he uses are amazing as well.
Shortly afterward, he and Dogs in Space star Michael Hutchence collaborated on a musical project under the name Max Q, producing an album combining electronic music with political paranoia. The Max Q band included John Murphy and keyboard player Gus Till. After recording Olsen and Hutchence spent time in New York City mixing the tracks, and re-mixing with DJ Todd Terry.
Olsen later returned to Australia and turned his attentions to trance music, co-founding Australian electronic music label, Psy-Harmonics with Gus Till's brother, Andrew Till, and recording under the name, Third Eye. From the 1990s onwards, he has worked increasingly in film and sound design for television.
Olsen has lectured on and taught electronic music at various universities and symposia, and has also performed with a wide variety of international artists.
As of 2006, Olsen was working on a number of recording projects - mostly electro-acoustic pieces - with artists from Australia, Japan and South Africa, for performance and release in 2006. Olsen's musical output that year consisted of the release of the album, I Am The Server (13 February 2006), through the Greek record label, Creative Space, and the release of an electro-acoustic album, entitled Simulated. I Am The Server was composed, recorded and engineered by Olsen, with additional music from Bill McDonald and Peter Luscombe; the album was mastered by Simon Pool at LGM studios and the album artwork was produced by Maro Kassoti. Simulated was composed, performed and engineered by Olsen, between 1999 and 2006, mastered by Simon Pool at LGM studios, in January 2006, and the album artwork was, again, produced by Maro Kassoti. A series of video clips were uploaded to the YouTube website in support of both I Am The Server and Simulated.
List of past bands:
The Young Charlatans,
Orchestra of Skin and Bone,
Shaolin Wooden Men,
Antediluvian Rocking Horse,
I Am The Server,
Taipan Tiger Girls,
Spectral Electron Chromas,
Vanish from this state of Whatever,
Recent collaborations & projects:
Nominated for Best Music Score for the movie Head On at the Australian Film Institute Awards (AFI Awards, 2001);,
Composed music and sound design for Troy Innocent's interactive installation Semiomorph (2001);,
Contributed the electronic component to Australian composer Richard Mills' acclaimed opera Batavia. (2001);,
Invited to be guest soloist with the Australian Art Orchestra (2002);,
Recorded with Japanese bands Boredoms and AOA (2001-2002);,
Performed original work Generative/Regenerative live at Sonic Residues with Andrew Garton, Justina Curtis and John Power;,
Composed sound for Andrew Garton's D3 installation at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI, 2003);,
Created sound design fx for Zhang Yimou's film House of Flying Daggers (2004);,
Performed numerous concerts as a member of Damo Suzuki's Network ensemble (2004-05);,
Performed as a member of the Terminal Quartet featuring Andrew Garton with Paul Abad and Ross Bencina (2006).,
Composed score for "The Loved Ones" 2009,
Composed score for "Birthday"2009
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license